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U.S. Soldiers Posed With Afghan Bombers' Corpses

2012_04_soldiphoto.jpg
The LA Times was given this photograph of a "soldier from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division with the body of an Afghan insurgent killed while trying to plant a roadside bomb"
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Eight years after photographs of U.S. soldiers torturing prisoners at Abu Gharib shocked the country and world, there's now a set of photographs showing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan posing with body parts of bombers. The photo were given to the LA Times, which reports that the soliders were initially supposed to get iris scans and fingerprints to ID "the mangled remains of an insurgent suicide bomber."

From the Times:

The 82nd Airborne Division soldiers arrived at the police station in Afghanistan's Zabol province in February 2010. They inspected the body parts. Then the mission turned macabre: The paratroopers posed for photos next to Afghan police, grinning while some held — and others squatted beside — the corpse's severed legs. A few months later, the same platoon was dispatched to investigate the remains of three insurgents who Afghan police said had accidentally blown themselves up. After obtaining a few fingerprints, they posed next to the remains, again grinning and mugging for photographs.

Two soldiers posed holding a dead man's hand with the middle finger raised. A soldier leaned over the bearded corpse while clutching the man's hand. Someone placed an unofficial platoon patch reading "Zombie Hunter" next to other remains and took a picture.

A solider from the 82nd Airborne Division gave the Times the pictures, and the Times contacted the Army. An Army spokesman said it would investigate, "It is a violation of Army standards to pose with corpses for photographs outside of officially sanctioned purposes. Such actions fall short of what we expect of our uniformed service members in deployed areas."The Times was asked not to publish the photographs, but Times Editor Davan Maharaj explained, "After careful consideration, we decided that publishing a small but representative selection of the photos would fulfill our obligation to readers to report vigorously and impartially on all aspects of the American mission in Afghanistan, including the allegation that the images reflect a breakdown in unit discipline that was endangering U.S. troops."

Relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan are currently strained at best, after last month's horror where a U.S. soldier went on a rampage and killed 16 Afghanistan civilians, including nine children, February's incident of Korans being burned by NATO forces, and video of Marines peeing on dead Afghans surfaced in January.

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Update: The Times' story has prompted the Huffington Post Media Twitter to link to this 2003 Editor & Publisher article where a Times reporter...interviews a corpse in Iraq:

...U.S. soldiers weren't alone in conveying troubling messages. Journalist Peter Wilson watched as a Los Angeles Times reporter walked to the driver's window of a destroyed minibus on central Baghdad's Sinak Bridge. Inside the broken window was the carbonized corpse of the vehicle's driver, its charred arm resting on the window's ledge. Bidding a photographer standing nearby to take his photo, the reporter, Geoffrey Mohan, stood about a foot from the corpse and, with his pen poised over his notebook, asked: "Well, sir, do you have any comment on what has happened to you here?"